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Report card: Pacquiao vs. Margarito

Fighters Network

Manny Pacquiao allowed Antonio Margarito to back him into corners but was too elusive to endure significant punishment Saturday at Cowboys Stadium. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito
Nov. 13, 2010, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas

The main event
Grade: B+
Comment: This wasn’t a great fight; in fact, it wasn’t a fight. It was a great performance by a great fighter, one that left us in awe of him once again. It’s odd that such a slaughter could be so fascinating to watch. Perhaps the sheer violence of it appeals to our dark sides, which certainly would’ve been satiated on Saturday night. And maybe some people wanted to see Margarito take a beating after the hand-wrap scandal. More significant than that, though, is our fascination with Pacquiao. Fans obviously appreciate greatness even if it’s met with little resistance, which was the case on Saturday. Everyone knew we were watching something very special.

Grade: A
Comment: The man utterly dominates a world-class opponent who is three weight divisions heavier than he is, takes some unnecessary risks in an effort to entertain the fans and shows compassion by easing up in the final round or two. That’s an outstanding night’s work. Once again, the biggest attraction in boxing gave the fans their money’s worth – and then some. For the record: We shouldn’t read too much into the significance of the victory beyond its historic importance, his title in an eighth weight class. This was a mismatch from the moment they signed the contracts, an easy fight for Pacquiao. We couldn’t possibly gauge how Pacquiao might do against a fighter like Floyd Mayweather Jr. by a ridiculously easy victory over someone as limited and slow as Margarito. Why not an A+ here? The only thing he failed to do was score a knockout.

Grade: C
Comment: Margarito gave us a spirited effort, which is no surprise given his reputation. The proud Mexican didn’t give up for a moment, even when he was rocked, even when his face became a battered mess, even when it was clear he had no chance to win. Forgive the clich├® but he would’ve died in the ring before he would’ve quit. He should be commended for his courage. On the other hand, he failed utterly to make it a decent fight. He had neither the speed nor the ability to cope with a marvel like Pacquiao. The only damage he did came when he had Pacquiao against the ropes but that more the result of Pacquiao choosing to give him the opportunity – to entertain the fans – than anything he did. Bottom line: He was in way over his head, which resulted in a gruesome pounding. “The Tijuana Tornado” probably will make in excess of $5 million but at what price?

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer
Grade: A
Comment: Roach didn’t have an easy camp. The world’s top trainer had to cope with the distractions in the Philippines, which is simply part of the deal these days. He battled to get Pacquiao’s mind into the task at hand. And he worried that his fighter might not be 100 percent come fight time, at least to a small degree. However, when the time came, Pacquiao was more than ready to go. He was sharp and fit, which allowed him to execute his game plan to perfection. Roach will be the first to give credit to Pacquiao, who is the one in the ring, but Pacquiao knows he wouldn’t be where he is without his long-time mentor. This is one of the great partnerships in the history of boxing.

Robert Garcia, Margarito’s trainer
Grade: C+
Comment: Garcia was given an impossible task; nothing could’ve prepared Margarito for what he endured on Saturday night. That said, he apparently conducted a very good camp. His fighter was in shape and believed in himself going into the fight, which shouldn’t be dismissed. He simply didn’t have the physical tools to compete. Garcia did fail in one glaring respect, though: He should’ve stopped the fight even against his fighter’s wishes. Margarito took gratuitous punishment in the final two rounds, his battered face taking shot after shot even though he had absolutely no chance of winning the fight. It shouldn’t have taken a kind act from Pacquiao, who cruised in the end, to save his opponent for excessive suffering. I hope one of the sport’s true nice guys has regrets. If so, he might make the right decision next time.

The Judges
Grade: B
Comment: The one judge many observers wondered about, Juergen Langos of Germany, is the judge who got it right. He scored it a shutout, 120-108. Glen Crocker had it 118-110 and Oren Shellenberger had it 119-109. I can’t be too hard on the latter two judges; they did have one-sided scores for a one-sided fight. However, I don’t believe a few fleeting moments in which Margarito was able to land one or two punches should’ve given him any rounds. Pacquiao took a few decent punches in spots but, according to both my recollection and CompuBox stats, the winner landed more punches overall and more power shots in every single round. Two rounds for Margarito? C’mon.

Grade: B
Comment: I was thinking by the ninth round that Laurence Cole had done a splendid job, in part because we didn’t know he was there. And I liked the fact he stopped the fight twice to check Margarito’s vision, which obviously is key to his ability to defend himself. And I really can’t be overly critical of his decision to allow the fight to go 12 rounds when it should’ve been stopped earlier. Margarito’s face was a disaster but he wasn’t seriously hurt and he continued to throw punches the end. Still, if I were him, I probably would’ve stopped it after the 10th round because there was no point in continuing. His injuries were getting worse by the punch and he had no chance to win. Consider Pacquiao’s edge in power punches in the final three rounds, according to CompuBox: 135-18. Sometimes you have to use common sense.

The crowd
Grade: B-
Comment: First, the fact the attendance was a mere 41,734 – after predictions of up to 70,000 were made — was disappointing. Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey drew 50,994 at Cowboys Stadium in March. Promoter Bob Arum blamed the figure in part on the fact no standing-room-only tickets were sold. The fans who did show up were spirited, as they were in March. Margarito fans turned out in force, cheering more loudly than Pacquiao’s supporters. They were largely silent during the fight, though, as the winner’s fans chanted “Manny! Manny! Manny!” several times. I also sensed that they appreciated what they had the privilege of seeing: a virtuoso performance. Cowboys Stadium has proved to be a fine venue for boxing.

The undercard
Grade: C
Comment: The undercard also was a disappointment. The Guillermo Rigondeaux-Ricardo Cordboa fight, slick southpaw vs. slick southpaw, was a snoozefest. The only compelling moments of the Mike Jones-Jesus Soto-Karass too place in the second round, when Jones unloaded a ridiculous barrage of punches in a failed attempt to score a knockout. While the Brandon Rios-Omri Lowther fight had an exciting finish – a Rios knockout – the lead-up to the ending was nothing special. And prospects Mike Lee and Jose Benavidez scored quick knockouts against overmatched opponents. The only thing that stood out was the Jones-Soto-Karass decision, which went to Jones. Most observers seemed to believe Soto-Karass deserved the nod.

Note: We will be putting together report cards regularly after selected big fights to give readers an idea how various players performed.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]